Queensland needs a standalone EPA and deserves levy certainty to thrive

 18 September 2020

Queenslanders will head to the polls on 31 October 2020 and ahead of the state election, the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) has written to political parties, urging them to adopt and commit to six (6) waste and resource recovery (WARR) priorities that will create jobs and investment for the state, aiding the Sunshine State in its post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

“Since 2017, Queensland has made encouraging progress with the WARR sector in implementing the waste levy, increasing funding to industry, and introducing the Containers for Change program,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“But there are significant opportunities knocking at the door that Queensland can and must capture quickly to continue to build a successful and integrated WARR system, which will have tremendous benefits in protecting the environment and community, and bringing much-needed jobs and investment to boost the state’s economy. Queensland leaders need to grab the bull by its horn and commit to, and fund a range of commitments, all of which are aligned to the recommendations made by the Queensland Treasury Corporation in 2018.”

WMRR is calling on all parties to commit to the following election priorities to future-proof Queensland’s economy:

  1. Establish a separate and independent Environment Protection Authority with its own Board to provide greater certainty around how regulations will be approached and interpreted by government.
  2. Continuation of, and support for, the waste disposal levy, which is an economic tool to divert waste from landfill. The advance annual payment to local government must be sunsetted to drive greater resource recovery, and a dedicated and transparent fund set up to manage and reinvest collected levy monies.
  3. Adoption of a strategic WARR state-wide infrastructure plan to enable long-term planning, including identifying both market demand and supply, against the backdrop of the impending COAG waste bans and the need to rebuild the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Review and standardise data collection, analysis and publication. The current lack of robust and reliable data is a barrier to investment decisions.
  5. Establish a market development agency, similar to the approach undertaken in other jurisdictions, to invest in creating markets in Queensland to enable the remanufacture and demand for recycled materials. This will lead to job growth throughout the state.
  6. Government must show leadership in developing domestic markets by committing to funding to sustainable procurement as well as developing and implementing policies which require prioritising the purchase of goods with recycled content across all government contracts.

“Meeting these priorities will increase our essential sector’s contribution to Queensland’s Gross State Product and drive the state’s environmental and employment objectives,” Ms Sloan said.

WMRR’s letter to Queensland’s political parties and leaders can be found here.